Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has today launched Hatsu Sigma, the second in a series of ten 7,024 teu S-type container vessels that the shipyard is building for the Evergreen Group. The vessel, which will be operated by London-headquartered Hatsu Marine Ltd., was named by Mrs. Susan Bligh, wife of Captain Stephen Bligh, Chief Executive of the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency.

Evergreen Group Chairman Dr. Y.F. Chang commented, “For the past 37 years since the inception of Evergreen Marine, I have named over a hundred ships. Despite the numerous launches I attended, I still find each launch as unique and overwhelming as the first, as the sleek and beautiful ship is gallantly introduced into the waters for the first time. I am grateful to the industry, cooperation and hard work of the MHI team that worked tirelessly to make this reality.”

The Evergreen Group will take delivery of 18 post-Panamax containerships over the period 2005 to 2008 ’ 10 S-types and eight 8,000 TEU C-types ’ allowing the Group companies to upgrade existing services and phase out older vessels.

Hatsu Sigma is due to be delivered to Evergreen Group company Hatsu Marine in November 2005 and will commence her maiden voyage to Europe shortly thereafter. She will become the ninth vessel in the Hatsu-owned fleet following the delivery of sistership, Hatsu Shine, in September this year. The fleet also comprises five 6,332 TEU E-class vessels that operate between the Far East and the West Coast of North America and two 1,618 TEU P-class vessels currently deployed in regional Asian services. All ships fly the U.K. flag.

According to Chairman Chang, “Hatsu Sigma is the second of 10 S-type vessels on order with MHI that will be introduced to our European trades upon its delivery. We had so far commissioned 47 vessels with MHI, all of which are now actively plying the seven seas of the world, offering the most comprehensive and efficient services to customers.” Chairman Chang added, “Indeed, we owe the modest success we have achieved to date to the good auspices of both MHI and everyone present here today. Evergreen Group can only be what it is today through your constant support and endorsement.”

Hatsu Marine was established in London on Jan. 4, 2002. Through slot-sharing and joint service agreements with other carriers including Evergreen and Lloyd Triestino, it now offers its customers a network of services embracing Asia, North America and Europe. With the expansion of its fleet over the next few years, it will be adding to the number of services offered and expanding its capacity on existing services.

Green ships for Evergreen

The new S-type vessels are particularly noteworthy in that they incorporate many new environmental features that go well beyond the requirements of new and soon-to-be-introduced international requirements.

Evergreen Group Chairman, Dr. Y. F. Chang, believes that all ship owners have a duty to minimize the impact of their operations on the global environment:

“We should not wait for legislation to be introduced. We should use the latest technology as soon as it is available so as to minimize the impact of container shipping operations both on marine life and on port communities.

“Although our market is price-driven and highly competitive, with our customers all seeking to achieve the lowest shipping costs, we know that most of them are also very aware of the environmental issues. We can assure them that Evergreen will provide first-class services whilst maintaining the highest environmental standards.”

The S-class ships incorporate a double-skinned hull and all fuel tanks have been located within the transverse bulkhead spaces, thus minimizing the risk of oil pollution or fire as a result of grounding or collision. A high capacity oily water separator enables the oil content of waste water to be reduced to just 15 ppm while much larger separator bilge oil and bilge oil holding tanks provide more storage capacity than normal, enabling the vessels to avoid any discharge when sailing in sensitive a